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Luxury looks and luxury handling make the Hyundai XG350 a bargain.

2002 Hyundai XG350 Road Test
One car, one price

By Bill Roebuck

If you'd like to buy a car that has just one price, and comes fully equipped, take a look at the XG350 from Hyundai. It's a great luxury family sedan that's roomy, quiet, smooth riding, and has great styling. The price is $32,420 -- and that's for a fully optioned car. You'll pay $4,000 to $10,000 more for a similar vehicle from another manufacturer.

Once you get your head around the idea that a Hyundai nameplate can be on a luxury model, you'll see the attributes of this model. It seats five in comfortable leather, with seat heaters up front on both the cushions and the backrests. It has an automatic climate control system, power sunroof, multifunction trip computer, power front seats, immobilizer alarm system, keyless entry, and, of course, power windows, doors and outside mirrors, which are heated.

The sound system is more than adequate. It's a six-speaker setup with a stereo and single-disc CD player. The stereo control buttons are large and easy to adjust, although there is no "scan" function.

The instrument panel also is easy to read, with large gauges and a redundant gear indicator. Head and leg room are excellent, both front and rear. There's 411 litres (14.5 cu ft) of trunk space. The trunk lid is large and wide for easy loading. That goes for the passenger doors also, making the XG350 easy to enter and exit, front and rear. Seating is very comfortable in all positions. Visibility from the driver's seat is good all around.

Inside, walnut-coloured trim in both the front and rear compartments gives the Hyundai an air of dignity. Outside, a large chromed grille gives a distinctive, upscale look to the front end, while the rear looks substantial with its tall trunk and large rear lamps.

The transmission is a five-speed automatic with a Shiftronic mode for manual shifting. It shifts smoothly even under hard acceleration. The tranny is connected to a 3.5-litre V6 that's strong and quiet. The XG350 is very responsive to the gas pedal, and quick enough for easy merging on highway ramps or passing. The engine produces 194 hp and 216 lb-ft of torque.

On the highway, there's little road or wind noise detectable. The ride is stable, thanks to a fully independent suspension and gas-filled shock absorbers. Gas mileage is average, rated at 13.3 and 8.3 litres/100 km for city and highway driving, however, expensive premium fuel is recommended.

Hyundai's design department, which has been busy tweaking all the company's models, does a superb job, and the marque has some of the best looking models on the road today. The XG350 is no exception. I heard comments that the front end looks like a Lexus, the rear like a Lincoln LS, the profile like a Jaguar. No matter, the bottom line is that it's a classy looking sedan.

There's a good supply of safety gear, from two-stage front airbags and seat-mounted side airbags to standard anti-lock brakes. The brakes are equipped with electronic brake force distribution, and handling is aided by an electronic traction control system to reduce aggressive wheelspin. It worked quite effectively when the roads were slick with fresh rain.

There's only a few options to be had -- a six-disc CD changer, block heater and metallic paint add about $1,100 to the invoice. By the way, Hyundai offers a newlywed rebate of $500..

Don't worry about Hyundai's previous cheap-car reputation. The company is building some great vehicles today, and I think this is a car your Dad would be proud to see you drive. It's stylish, roomy, solid, competent on the road, and carries a practical price when you consider all the features included as standard equipment.

© Copyright Bill Roebuck, 2002.

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